Stronger than yesterday! February 16 marks ten years since that fateful day Britney Spears hit rock bottom and shaved her head at Esther’s Haircutting Studio in Tarzana, California. Take a look back at the pop princess’ public breakdown, how she has since reclaimed her throne and all the moments in between in the video above, and detailed below.
The date was February 16, 2007. Spears, then 25, walked into the hair salon at approximately 7 p.m. and asked owner Esther Tognozzi to shave off her then-brunette locks, just one day after checking herself in and out of rehab. When Tognozzi refused, Spears (who was reportedly battling addiction, an undisclosed mental illness and in the midst of a bitter custody battle with ex Kevin Federline) took matters into her own hands, grabbing the buzzer and shaving off all her hair.
“The only emotions that she showed was when she said her mom [Lynne Spears] was going to be mad that she was doing this to her hair and she got a little bit teary-eyed,” Tognozzi told Extra at the time. “Then she all of a sudden realized what she did.”
After leaving the salon, a newly bald Spears headed to the Body & Soul tattoo parlor in Sherman Oaks, California, where she got inked on her hip and her wrist. When asked by an employee why she just shaved her hair off, Spears replied, “I don’t want anyone touching me. I’m tired of everybody touching me,” as Us Weekly reported at the time.
The pop superstar’s longtime assistant, Felicia Culotta, wrote an email saying Spears’ family and friends were trying to get her help, but she wouldn’t hear of it. “There’s just so much you can do to help a person,” Culotta wrote. “I cannot convince her in ANY way to love herself. … I cannot save her from herself, nor can I commit her to any type of treatment program against her wishes and will.”
Spears — who, a month prior to shaving her head, wrote on her website that the “media has had a lot of fun exaggerating my every move” — quickly became a tabloid fixture. Days after buzzing her hair, she was photographed attacking a paparazzo’s car with an umbrella, an image that instantly went global. That September, Spears took the stage at the MTV Video Music Awards, opening the show with a lackluster performance of her new single “Gimme More” from her album Blackout.
The Grammy winner hit her breaking point in January 2008 when she was hospitalized on a 5150 involuntary psychiatric hold after refusing to turn her sons, Sean Preston, then 2, and Jayden James, then 14 months, over to Federline. Luckily, the incident set the stage for recovery.
Spears regained visitation rights to her boys and released her chart-topping sixth album, Circus, in 2008. Her song “Piece of Me” won three VMAs that year, including Video of the Year. She continued to prove that she was still capable of releasing pop hits with her 2011 album, Femme Fatale. Spears found love again too. She got engaged to Jason Trawick in December 2011, but the couple called it quits in January 2013.
In 2012, the entertainer earned a seat on the X Factor judging panel, but left the now-defunct U.S. version of the singing competition after one season. A year later, she released what she called her “most personal album ever,” the self-titled Britney Jean. The album led to Spears’ hugely successful Las Vegas residency, Britney: Piece of Me, which has since grossed more than $100 million.
Last year, Spears dropped her ninth album, Glory, which fans lauded as the singer’s best in nearly a decade. To promote the record, she made a triumphant return to the VMAs stage, performing for the first time since 2007.
Today, the music icon, now 35, continues to perform her Vegas residency and spends her free time with her kids, now 11 and 10. She is currently dating fitness model and personal trainer Sam Asghari, her costar in her sexy “Slumber Party” music video.